Exposure to mold is a serious problem you want to avoid if you can. Unfortunately, many people have to contend with mold in their air conditioner. If you are not careful, then this can quickly grow into black mold. You should contact the professionals from Day & Night Air in Phoenix, AZ for routine HVAC maintenance, but here are some things you can do on your own to get rid of mold safely.
Know When the Best Time to Clean Your AC Is
You are most likely to find mold in your AC after it has gone unused for a while. Mold is most likely to develop over the winter when you are not using your air conditioner for several months on end. Therefore, you want to inspect your unit right before summer when you may turn it on again. You want to ensure it works properly because you do not want the system to blow mold particles throughout your home. This can lead to health complications, such as headaches, sore throats, and other respiratory issues.
1. Get the Right Supplies
Before getting to work, you want to have everything you will need already on-hand. You do not want to be halfway through the job only to discover you need to rush to the store to grab something. The items you need include:
- Face mask
- Protective eyewear
- Laundry detergent
- 5-gallon bucket
- Mild dish soap
- Scrub brush
- Vacuum cleaner with attachments
Once you get everything, you need to make sure you clean your AC unit in an open space. You want good ventilation in the area, so open some nearby windows to get some air in the room.
2. Put on Your Safety Gear
Before you poke around the AC, you want to put on all the safety gear. This includes your gloves, eyewear, and mask. You will get up close with the mold, so you do not want to breathe any spores in.
3. Turn Off Your AC To Prevent Further Spreading
Before cleaning your AC, you should first shut off the system. This will prevent mold spores from further circulating around your house. You need to unplug the system and visually inspect the unit to see if you have a mold problem. This will require you to grab a flashlight because mold may be further down the system. You need to be vigilant of the signs of mold, which can include streaks of green, black or brown stains. Occasionally, these stains will appear fuzzy. You also need to watch out for the development of mildew, which takes the form of white and powdery gray stains.
4. Remove the Front Panel
To get inside the unit, you will need to take off the front panel. Although AC units come with different designs, most panels are made the same. You should be able to use your nut driver to unscrew the panel and pull it out. You can change the filter at this point if it is located in your system. If you have a washable filter we suggest disposing of it and switching over to pleated disposable filters. Washable filters tend to never get clean once they get dirty. It is a good habit to replace the air filter once every few months no matter what.
5. Use the Vacuum To Clean Up Dirt
Most vacuum cleaners come with attachments that allow you to clean hard-to-reach places. Use the attachment to clean up as much debris and dirt as you can. You may need to rotate the unit to reach certain components that are prone to dust build-up. You want to make sure you clean the evaporator coil and blower motor. This will make wiping down the unit to clean off the mold much simpler.
6. Check for Any Damaged Parts
Although your goal is to eliminate any mold, you should use this opportunity to see if there are any new components you need. You should check for any bent parts, such as a flattened fin. You also need to see if the coils have become crooked that you need to straighten out. In the event there is a problem, you need to remedy it immediately. This will require you to contact a professional from Day & Night Air to install it for you. There are many intricate parts inside an AC, and you do not want to risk putting your fingers too close to certain parts. Leave this job to the experts.
8. Mix the Solution
At this point, you are ready to turn your attention to the mold. You need to develop a cleaning solution, which consists of one tablespoon mild dish soap, ½ cup bleach, and three gallons of hot water. You need to mix all of this together in the 5-gallon bucket.
9. Scrub the Moldy Areas of the AC
You need to get a sponge, brush or cloth to soak up the solution and scrub down the affected areas of your AC. You also want to clean the front grille with the same solution. Even if you do not see any mold, it may still be a good idea to scrub down the area just to prevent mold from growing in the future. You should allow the solution to sit for at least 10 minutes. After this time, you need to rinse the AC down with a damp cloth and water. If you still see mold on the unit, you can repeat the scrubbing steps until it goes away.
10. Let the Unit Dry and Reassemble
Before you put everything back together, you need to let the unit dry completely. This can take up to 24 hours, so give yourself some time to do this. This is why you should do this before it starts getting hot out because you will be without your AC for a while. Once the unit is dry and there is no longer any mold, you can reassemble the unit and put the grille back on with your new, clean filter. Plug it back into a power source so that you can enjoy clean, cold air all summer long.
Prevent Future Mold Growth
There are several things you can do to stop mold from growing in the first place after you have cleaned your unit. First, you should leave your AC on at all times. Your AC does more than cool down the air. It also conditions the air by removing moisture, which also makes your home more comfortable. Leave your AC on a continuous cycle.
It’s also highly recommended to get on a routine maintenance schedule. You should hire a professional to inspect your unit at least once a year to make sure everything works as it should. A Day & Night Air professional will also tell you if you have the early signs of mold growing. They will conduct deep maintenance and clean your unit to prevent mold from developing initially. This will save you a lot of hassle. Although you are certainly capable of cleaning a unit on your own, it helps to have a professional do it to stop the problem from coming back.
Additionally, you need to identify and stop any leaks as soon as they form. Mold requires moisture to develop, so a leak in the system will lead to mold growth quickly. Mold also needs stale air, so if you turn off your AC often, then mold has everything it needs to thrive.
Know When To Replace an AC Unit
Most people should be perfectly capable of cleaning an AC unit to get rid of any mold. However, there are extreme cases where you will be better off throwing away the unit completely. The above steps are great for mild cases of mold, where only a couple streaks have formed. However, if the entire interior of the unit has fuzzy mold, then you should not attempt to clean it on your own. You can hire an AC professional to look at it in this instance. The advice you get may be to install a new AC unit.
Even in this instance, cleaning the unit may be a fruitless endeavor. This is why it is critical to keep up-to-date with AC maintenance. You have to neglect your AC for a long time in order for mold to get this bad. It is even possible that hiring someone to clean the AC for you will cost more than simply purchasing a new unit.
Never Breathe In Unhealthy Air
When you discover mold inside your AC unit, you should clean it right away. You definitely do not want to turn the unit on for any period of time. You will only spread the mold to other areas of the house. You especially need to be careful of black mold in an air conditioner. This is a toxic substance that leads to even worse respiratory issues. Prolonged exposure to black mold can lead to chronic nausea, bleeding in the nose, and vomiting.
Contact a Professional From Day & Night Air
There is some AC work you can do on your own. However, there are other projects you should entrust to the experts at Day & Night Air. Contact us through our online form if you have any HVAC issues. We can send one of our experienced employees to your house soon to see what the problem is and to recommend the best course of action.